Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Need for Redistricting Reform Even More Evident and Urgent/John Doe Investigation

Reform Update
March 28, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

  1. Need for Redistricting Reform Even More Evident and Urgent
  2. "Road Map" for John Doe Investigation of Walker's County Executive Misdeeds?
  3. Over 150 Attend Sheboygan "Reform Forum" Last Week

1. Last Friday, the Federal Court three-judge panel hearing lawsuits against Wisconsin's redistricting law -- passed and enacted last year, but not due to be in effect until November -- struck part of it down. The panel said the law was in violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 with regard to the way it diluted the minority population in a predominantly Latino Assembly District in Milwaukee by dividing it up into two Assembly Districts -- each with a diminished Latino population. But the Court said that the rest of the new Wisconsin map of newly-drawn districts could stand and that the Legislature need only go back and redraw the Latino districts in question.

But here is the problem. With the resignation of Republican State Senator Pam Galloway of Wausau last week, the State Senate is now evenly split between the GOP and Democrats at 16 each. So who would control the redistricting rewrite in the State Senate that the judges said needs to be done? The Republicans want the Court to do it and the Democrats want the entire map of Wisconsin redrawn. And there is likely no agreement possible in this most partisan of legislative matters. The Court yesterday gave the parties involved in the lawsuit until April 3rd to come to an agreement and if that didn't happen, the Court would resolve the matter.

The Court also excoriated the Republicans for the secretive, partisan process in which it drew the new legislative districts and rammed it through the Legislature last year -- without public or minority party input and almost completely behind closed doors. The Court strongly suggested that Wisconsin do redistricting differently next time. Like this, for example. Yesterday's editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal agrees.

2. The secret "John Doe" investigation of illegal activities alleged to have been committed by top aides to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Documents released last week and yesterday point to a possible "road map" of what may lie ahead. CC/WI comments in this recent television report.

3. More than 150 concerned citizens of all political persuasions and opinions filled every seat at UW-Sheboygan last week to hear about and discuss political reform issues presented and debated by five panelists.
The states new photo Voter ID law, public financing of state elections, disclosure of outside special interest money, whether to elect or appoint state Supreme Court Justices, finding a better redistricting process and more were discussed in a passionate but civil manner. The forum panelists were former Democratic State Senator Cal Potter, Sheboygan County Supervisor and Republican Assembly candidate Devin LeMahieu, progressive former attorney, activist and city council member Mary Lynne Donohue, Libertarian and Tea Party activist Charles Windsor, and CC/WI Director Jay Heck. Lakeland College Professor of History Rick Dodgson moderated the very lively event that continued for a half-hour past its scheduled end time due to continued interest in the discussion!

You can read the preview article for the event here. Wisconsin Eye filmed the Reform Forum which you can view on their website here.

Our next Reform Forum is tentatively scheduled for Monday May 7th at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Stay tuned for more details.......

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!

Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

*Updated 3/29/2012


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Disclosure of Outside Campaign Cash and Redistricting Reform Not "Sexy Enough" for Legislature to Consider?

Reform Update
March 14, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

  1. Sexual Abstinence Education Trumps Political Reform in Legislature's Waning Days
  2. Is Governor Walker Under Criminal Investigation or Isn't He?
  3. Most Restrictive and Extreme Voter ID Law in the Nation is Clearly Unlawful
  4. Huge Cache of Special Interest ALEC Money Stashed in Wisconsin
  5. Reform Forum in Sheboygan on Monday Everning - March 19th

1. Our "full time" Wisconsin Legislature is scrambling this week to close down the 2011-2012 legislative session so they can devote the rest of the year to raising cash for negative ads and campaigning to hold on to their jobs. How would you like to have your work year end in March but get a paycheck for the entire year? Sweet gig if you can get it.

And what are they pulling all-nighters this week to accomplish?

Requiring schools that provide sex education to teach abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.


This is what the Wisconsin Legislature has now made a priority. Two things not on their agenda that should be: requiring disclosure of the outside special interest groups who have already begun dumping millions of dollars in Wisconsin for mostly negative communications to influence the upcoming recall elections this Spring and Summer and the Fall elections. And, reforming Wisconsin's disgraceful redistricting process -- among the most secretive, partisan, self-serving (for politicians), and wasteful (of taxpayer dollars) in the nation. Go here for more.

2. Late last Friday afternoon, Governor Scott Walker's office meekly informed the media that Walker had established a legal defense fund in order to pay for high-priced lawyers Walker has retained in the "John Doe" investigation of illegal activity in the Milwaukee County Executive's office which Walker occupied until he was elected Governor in 2010. When politicians put out releases on Friday afternoons, it is invariably because they are hoping very few in the media or the public will notice. Clearly, this was Walker's intent last week. State law is pretty clear that a state official can only set up a legal defense fund if they are under investigation or have been criminally charged. CC/WI was asked to comment on this development here and here. As late as yesterday, Walker continued to give confusing and vague responses to the question of whether or not he is under criminal investigation.

Don't the citizens of Wisconsin deserve to know definitively whether or not their Governor is the target of a criminal investigation?

3. Last year, the Wisconsin Legislature passed, and Governor Walker signed into law the nation's most extreme and restrictive photo voter ID law in the nation. It is far more restrictive than any such law passed in any southern state, or in Indiana -- which the authors and proponents of the law said Wisconsin's was modeled after. The U.S. Supreme court upheld the Indiana law a few years ago, however -- because Wisconsin's law is so much more restrictive -- it will likely not withstand legal scrutiny. Indiana and many other states, for example, allow voters who come to the polls without one of the proscribed forms of identification to sign an affidavit attesting and swearing that the voter is who she or he says she or he is. The authors of the Wisconsin law did not trust the citizens of this state sufficiently to allow for the affidavit option. If you cannot come up with one of the proscribed and relatively limited forms of ID here -- no matter what the hardship involved in obtaining that particular form of ID -- too bad. You can't vote.

A second Court on Monday said no Wisconsin. You can't do that. If you haven't read it yet, please read Judge Richard Neiss's excellent (and relatively brief) decision here. It will make you proud to be an American.

4. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) strikes again. This extremely powerful and influential national organization that brings corporations and other special interest groups together with legislators to wine, dine, and write "model" legislation (to benefit corporations and special interest groups), recently sent $356,000 to a Madison, Wisconsin lobbyist's office. Why? Find out more here.

5. On Monday evening, March 19th, CC/WI is hosting another in its long-running series of "reform forums." to bring together panelists and citizens of differing views to discuss political reform issues. This one is in Sheboygan. For all of the details, including a list of panelists, go here.

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972


Friday, March 2, 2012

CC/WI Public Forum in Sheboygan on Monday, March 19th

                              The Citizens United Decision
                 Disclosure of Money in Politics 
                     Voter Photo ID
                          Public Financing of Elections

"What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"

Monday, March 19, 2012
6:30 – 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin at Sheboygan (Wombat Room)
One University Ave

Sheboygan, Wisconsin 

 ** Event is Free... and so are the cookies! **

Panelists: Former State Representative and Senator Calvin Potter,
Sheboygan County Supervisor and GOP Candidate for the Assembly Devin LeMahieu,
Mary Lynne Donohue - Attorney and Past President of the Wisconsin Academy Board,
Charles Windsor - President of Windsor Industries, Inc. and Libertarian,
and CC/WI Executive Director Jay Heck.

ModeratorRick Dodgson - History Professor at Lakeland College

Please come join in the discussion and learn more about:
  • How will the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs F.E.C affect Wisconsin?
  • Is Disclosure of interest-group “phony issue ads” and other “outside” spending – is this necessary or would it stifle “free speech”
  • Redistricting reform in Wisconsin – how do we do it?
  • Will the new Voter Photo ID suppress voter fraud or voters?
  • Is Public Financing of our state elections needed
  • Should we elect or appoint Wisconsin's Supreme Court Justices?
Presented by Common Cause in Wisconsin   
(Underwritten by The Joyce Foundation)

Co-Sponsored by:




             American Association of University Women - Wisconsin
      American Association of University Women - Sheboygan Branch

League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network

League of Women Voters of Manitowoc County
League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County



Thursday, March 1, 2012

In the News - March 2012